The Wicker Man (1973) Movie Poster

Quotes from The Wicker Man (1973)

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    • Lord Summerisle: Do sit down, Sergeant. Shocks are so much better absorbed with the knees bent.
    • [referring to sacrifices]
    • Lord Summerisle: Animals are fine, but their acceptability is limited. A little child is even better, but not *nearly* as effective as the right kind of adult.
    • Sergeant Howie: And what of the TRUE God? Whose glory, churches and monasteries have been built on these islands for generations past? Now sir, what of him?
    • Lord Summerisle: He's dead. Can't complain, had his chance and in modern parlance, blew it.
    • Harbor Master: Much has been said of the strumpets of yore / Of wenches and bawdy house queens by the score / But I sing of a baggage that we all adore / The landlord's daughter!
    • [song continues sung by islanders drinking at the Green Man Inn pub...]
    • Willow: Some things in their natural state have the most VIVID colors.
    • Lord Summerisle: I think I could turn and live with animals. They are so placid and self-contained. They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins. They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God. Not one of them kneels to another or to his own kind that lived thousands of years ago. Not one of them is respectable or unhappy, all over the earth.
    • Miss Rose: The building attached to the ground in which the body lies is no longer used for CHRISTIAN worship, so whether it is still a CHURCHYARD is debatable.
    • May Morrison: Can I do anything for you, Sergeant?
    • Sergeant Howie: No, I doubt it, seeing you're all raving mad!
    • May Morrison: You'll simply never understand the true nature of sacrifice.
    • Sergeant Howie: I believe in the life eternal, as promised to us by our Lord, Jesus Christ.
    • Lord Summerisle: That is good. For believing what you do, we confer upon you a rare gift, these days - a martyr's death.
    • Sergeant Howie: Your lordship seems strangely... unconcerned.
    • Lord Summerisle: Well I'm confident your suspicions are wrong, Sergeant. We don't commit murder here. We're a deeply religious people.
    • Sergeant Howie: Religious? With ruined churches, no ministers, no priests... and children dancing naked!
    • Lord Summerisle: They do love their divinity lessons.
    • [outraged]
    • Sergeant Howie: But they are... are *naked*!
    • Lord Summerisle: Naturally! It's much too dangerous to jump through the fire with your clothes on!
    • [outside, several young girls are dancing naked over a fire]
    • Lord Summerisle: Good afternoon, Sergeant Howie. I trust the sight of the young people refreshes you.
    • Sergeant Howie: No sir, it does NOT refresh me.
    • [upon seeing the Wicker Man for the first time]
    • Sergeant Howie: O, God! O, Jesus Christ!
    • Lord Summerisle: Come. It is time to keep your appointment with the Wicker Man.
    • Willow: A man who would come here of his own free will.
    • Librarian: A man who has come here with the power of a king. By representing the law...
    • Willow: A man who would come here as a virgin...
    • Librarian: A man who has come here as a fool!
    • Sergeant Howie: What religion can they possibly be learning jumping over bonfires?
    • Lord Summerisle: Parthenogenesis.
    • Sergeant Howie: What?
    • Lord Summerisle: Literally, as Miss Rose would doubtless say in her assiduous way, reproduction without sexual union.
    • Sergeant Howie: Oh, what is all this? I mean, you've got fake biology, fake religion... Sir, have these children never heard of Jesus?
    • Lord Summerisle: Himself the son of a virgin, impregnated, I believe, by a ghost...
    • Daisy Pringle: The little old beetle goes 'round and 'round. Always the same way, y'see, until it ends up right up tight to the nail. Poor old thing!
    • Sergeant Howie: 'Poor old thing'? Then why in God's name do you do it, girl?
    • Rowan Morrison: Did I do it right?
    • Lord Summerisle: You did it beautifully!
    • [singing]
    • Lord Summerisle: Summer is icumen in, loudly sing cuckoo. Grows the seed and blows the mead, and springs the wood anew. Sing, cuckoo! Ewe bleats harshly after lamb, cows after calves make moo.
    • [first lines]
    • [yelling]
    • Sergeant Howie: Will you send a dinghy, please?
    • Lord Summerisle: What's the matter with you, MacGregor? Do you call that dancing? Cut some capers, man! Use your bladder. Play the fool. That's what you're here for. I suppose you've been getting drunk at your own bar.
    • Sergeant Howie: Don't you see that killing me is not going to bring back your apples?
    • Sergeant Howie: You are despicable little liars!
    • Sergeant Howie: If the crops fail, Summerisle, next year your people will kill you on May Day.
    • [Shaken]
    • Lord Summerisle: They will not fail!
    • [in the burning Wicker Man]
    • Sergeant Howie: Oh, God. I humbly entreat you for the soul of this, thy servant, Neil Howie... who will today depart from this world. Do not deliver me into the enemy's hands... or... . put me out of mind forever. Let me not undergo the real pains of Hell, dear God, because I die unshriven. And establish me in that bliss, which knows no ending. Through Christ, our Lord... Damn you! Damn you! DAMN YOU!
    • Miss Rose: You are the fool, Mr. Howie. Punch, one of the great fool-victims of history. For you have accepted the role of king for a day. And who but a fool would do that? But you will be revered and anointed as a king. You will undergo death and rebirth. Resurrection, if you like. The rebirth, sadly, will not be yours, but that of our crops.
    • Sergeant Howie: I am a Christian. And as a Christian, I hope for resurrection. And even if you kill me now, it is I who will live again, not your damned apples.
    • Lord Summerisle: Welcome, fool. You have come of your own free will to the appointed place. The game is over.
    • Sergeant Howie: Game? What game?
    • Lord Summerisle: The game of the hunted leading the hunter. You came here to find Rowan Morrison, but it is we who have found you and brought you here and controlled your every thought and action since you arrived. Principally, we persuaded you to think that Rowan Morrison was being held as a sacrifice because our crops failed last year.
    • Sergeant Howie: I know your crops failed. I saw the harvest photograph.
    • Lord Summerisle: Oh, yes. They failed, all right. Disastrously so. For the first time since my grandfather came here. The blossom came, but the fruit withered and died on the bough. That must not happen again this year. It is our most earnest belief that the best way of preventing this is to offer to our god of the sun and to the goddess of our orchards the most acceptable sacrifice that lies in our power.
    • Willow: I thought you were gonna come and see me last night. I invited you.
    • Sergeant Howie: I'm en... engaged to be married.
    • Willow: Oh, does that stop you?
    • Sergeant Howie: Aye, aye.
    • Willow: I must say, you are a gallant fellow, Sergeant.
    • Sergeant Howie: It's nothing personal. Just that I don't believe in it... before marriage.
    • Willow: Suit yourself. I expect you'll be going back today. You wouldn't want to be around here on May Day. Not the way you feel.
    • Sergeant Howie: I don't know if you know it or not, but Rowan is not dead. They've got her hidden somewhere.
    • May Morrison: They?
    • Sergeant Howie: Now, look, if you know where she is, I beg you to tell me now before it's too late.
    • May Morrison: Sergeant, I've already told you...
    • Sergeant Howie: In the name of God, woman, what kind of mother are you? That can stand by and see your own child slaughtered?
    • May Morrison: Sergeant, if I were you, I would go back to the mainland. Stop interfering in things that are no concern of yours.
    • Sergeant Howie: I am going to search every house in this place during the next few hours, and if anybody, including you, stands in my way, they'll be arrested as accomplices to murder.
    • Lord Summerisle: My friends, enough now. We shall all reassemble outside the town hall at 3:00 sharp, and then process through the village and the countryside, down to the beach, below the stones, by the route which has become sacred to our rite. This year, at the procession's end, as has already been proclaimed, a holy sacrifice will be offered up jointly to Nuada, our most sacred god of the sun, and to Avellenau, the beloved goddess to our orchards, in order that we may furnish them with renewed power to quicken the growth of our crops. Hail the queen of the May!
    • [researching May Day]
    • Sergeant Howie: "Primitive man lived and died by his harvest. The purpose of his spring ceremonies was to ensure a plentiful autumn. Relics of these fertility dramas are to be found all over Europe. In Great Britain, for example, one can still see harmless versions of them danced in obscure villages on May Day. Their cast includes many alarming characters: a man-animal, or hobbyhorse, who canters at the head of the procession, charging at the girls; a manwoman, the sinister teaser, played by the community leader or priest; and a man-fool, Punch, most complex of all the symbolic figures. The privileged simpleton and king for a day. Six swordsmen follow these figures, and at the climax of the ceremony, lock their swords together in a clear symbol of the sun. In Pagan times, however, these dancers were not simply picturesque jigs, they were frenzied rites ending in a sacrifice by which the dancers hoped desperately to win over the goddess of the fields. In good times, they offered produce to the gods and slaughtered animals, but in bad years, when the harvest had been poor... the sacrifice was a human being."
    • [thinking]
    • Sergeant Howie: Rowan's not dead!
    • [continuing to read]
    • Sergeant Howie: "Sometimes the victim would be drowned in the sea or burnt to death in a huge sacrificial bonfire. Sometimes the six swordsmen ritually beheaded the virgin." Dear God in heaven, even these people can't be that mad.
    • Miss Rose: I told you plainly, if Rowan Morrison existed, we would know of her.
    • Sergeant Howie: You mean she doesn't exist? She's dead?
    • Miss Rose: You would say so.
    • Sergeant Howie: Oh, come on, come on. She's either dead or she's not dead.
    • Sergeant Howie: There's hardly any produce. Well, that's it. The crops failed. And it's Rowan! Rowan and the crops failed!
    • Sergeant Howie: Where is Rowan Morrison?
    • Lord Summerisle: Sergeant Howie, I think that... you are supposed to be the detective here.
    • Sergeant Howie: A child is reported missing on your island. At first, I'm told there is no such child. I-I... I then find that there is, in fact, but she has been killed. I subsequently discover that there is no death certificate. And now I find that there is a grave. There's no body.
    • Lord Summerisle: Very perplexing for you. What do you think could have happened?
    • Sergeant Howie: I think Rowan Morrison was murdered, under circumstances of Pagan barbarity, which I can scarcely bring myself to believe is taking place in the 20th century. Now, it is my intention tomorrow to return to the mainland and report my suspicions to the chief constable of the West Highland Constabulary. And I will demand a full inquiry takes place into the affairs of this heathen island.
    • Lord Summerisle: You must, of course, do as you see fit, Sergeant.
    • [ringing a bell]
    • Lord Summerisle: Perhaps it's just as well that you won't be here tomorrow to be offended by the sight of our May Day celebrations here.
    • Lord Summerisle: In the last century, the islanders were starving. Like our neighbors today, they were scratching a bare subsistence from sheep and sea. Then in 1868, my grandfather bought this barren island and began to change things. A distinguished Victorian scientist, agronomist, free thinker. How formidably benevolent he seems. Essentially the face of a man incredulous of all human good.
    • Sergeant Howie: You're very cynical, my Lord.
    • Lord Summerisle: What attracted my grandfather to the island, apart from the profuse source of wiry labor that it promised, was the unique combination of volcanic soil and the warm gulf stream that surrounded it. You see, his experiments had led him to believe that it was possible to induce here the successful growth of certain new strains of fruit that he had developed. So, with typical mid-Victorian zeal, he set to work. The best way of accomplishing this, so it seemed to him, was to rouse the people from their apathy by giving them back their joyous old gods, and it is as a result of this worship the barren island would burgeon and bring forth fruit in great abundance. What he did, of course, was to develop new cultivars of hardy fruits suited to local conditions. But, of course, to begin with, they worked for him because he fed them and clothed them. But then later, when the trees starting fruiting, it became a very different matter, and the ministers fled the island, never to return. What my grandfather had started out of expediency, my father continued out of... love. He brought me up the same way, to reverence the music and the drama and the rituals of the old gods. To love nature and to fear it. And to rely on it and to appease it where necessary. He brought me up...
    • Sergeant Howie: He brought you up to be a Pagan!
    • Lord Summerisle: A heathen, conceivably, but not, I hope, an unenlightened one.
    • Sergeant Howie: I'd like to see your index of deaths, please.
    • Librarian: Do you have authority?
    • [he shows her his badge]
    • Librarian: No, I meant from His Lordship.
    • Sergeant Howie: I don't need it.
    • Librarian: I'm afraid you have to get permission from Lord Summerisle.
    • Sergeant Howie: Miss... if you don't cooperate with me here and now, you may well find yourself inside a police cell on the mainland tonight. Have I made myself quite clear? Please.
    • [with some reluctance, she hands the index over]
    • Sergeant Howie: Thank you.
    • Miss Rose: Here, we do not use the word...
    • Sergeant Howie: You mean in the churchyard?
    • Miss Rose: In a manner of speaking.
    • Sergeant Howie: No. In plain speaking.
    • [mouthing the word "dead"]
    • Miss Rose: We believe that when the human life is over, the soul returns to trees, to air, to fire, to water, to animals. So that Rowan Morrison has simply returned to the life forces in another form.
    • Sergeant Howie: Do you mean to say that you... you teach the children this stuff?
    • Miss Rose: Yes. I told you, it it what we believe.
    • Sergeant Howie: They never learn anything of Christianity?
    • Miss Rose: Only as a comparative religion. The children find it far easier to picture reincarnation than resurrection. Those rotting bodies are a great stumbling block for the childish imagination.
    • Sergeant Howie: Why, aye. Of course. And may I ask, where is the rotting body of Rowan Morrison?
    • Miss Rose: Why, it's where you'd expect it to be; in the earth.
    • [bussing Howie's dishes]
    • Willow: Now, I wonder what you'll be wanting for afters?
    • Sergeant Howie: Oh, I'll have an apple.
    • Willow: No apples.
    • [surprised]
    • Sergeant Howie: No apples? On an island famous for its fruit and vegetables?
    • Willow: I expect they've all be deported. You can have, uh, peaches and cream, if you like.
    • Sergeant Howie: Aye, from a can, I suppose.
    • Willow: What's the matter? Aren't you hungry?
    • Sergeant Howie: Oh, aye, it's just that most of the food I've had, the farmhouse soup, the potatoes, broad beans, all come out of a can. Broad beans in their natural state aren't usually turquoise, are they?
    • Sergeant Howie: I understand that you take the harvest festival photographs every year, the ones I saw in the Green Man.
    • [showing him the photo of Rowan again]
    • Sergeant Howie: Is that the girl?
    • T.H. Lennox: It's difficult to say.
    • Sergeant Howie: Oh, come on, man! It was only eight months ago. Surely you remember if it was that girl or not.
    • T.H. Lennox: Uh, yes. It's rather humdrum work, I'm afraid.
    • Sergeant Howie: Do you know what happened to last year's photograph?
    • T.H. Lennox: Isn't it there with the others?
    • Sergeant Howie: No, no, it's not. No, apparently it's been broken or damaged in some way.
    • T.H. Lennox: Oh, what a pity.
    • Sergeant Howie: Would you have a copy of it?
    • T.H. Lennox: Oh, no, I don't keep copies.
    • Sergeant Howie: Mr. Lennox, you were among the people to whom I showed the photograph in the Green Man.
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